Farm workers from Whatcom and Skagit counties are heading to Everett Thursday to testify before a work session of the Washington State House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
In a press release, Bellingham-based farm worker advocacy group Community to Community Development notes that local berry growers had a very productive year, but the workers who pick the fruit aren't sharing in the prosperity.
"These financial gains do not reflect the current reality for the majority of the state’s farm workers, who live in our communities and are our neighbors. In our state, farm workers continue to live below the poverty level, work in extreme weather, endure hostile and dangerous working conditions including exposure to toxic pesticides, and are exploited because of their immigrant status, inability to read, write, and let alone understand and speak English or Spanish. Many farm workers, as a result of these vulnerabilities experience wage theft, verbal and physical abuse at work, poor housing, and unstable employment and are unable to seek medical care because they cannot afford health care," the press release says.
“We need laws that really will protect workers and gives us fair wages on a larger level, here in Whatcom and Skagit counties and across the state," Whatcom County farm worker and organizer Angelica Villa said in the press release.
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Farmers and farm labor contractors are also expected to testify at the committee session, scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 in the Henry Jackson Conference Center at Everett Community College.
No local legislators are listed as committee members.
WHAT: Washington State Legislative Work Session.
WHEN: Thursday, November 14th 6p.m-8p.m
WHERE: Everett Community College. (Henry Jackson Conference Center)
2000 Tower St. Everett WA.